TO THE EDITOR:
Representative Boyle’s letter (“Ground zero mosque can be built, but shouldn’t,” Sept. 8) presents many of the same problems plaguing the opposition to the project: unreasonable suspicion, refusal to compromise and political scape-goating.
There are 1.8 million Muslim Americans. It is unfair to hold them accountable for 19 extremists. We do not demand such proof from other religious groups, yet opponents of the Park51 center repeatedly capitalize on this negative association. Misrepresentations of Imam Rauf as an extremist and Assemblyman Boyle’s facile comparison between building a center of faith and burning a holy document present a clear message: Muslims are guilty until proven innocent.
Assemblyman Boyle’s letter emphasizes the importance of “instilling virtues of tolerance and equality,” but it preaches tolerance without practicing it. The Park51 builders have attempted to assuage the doubts of Americans by renaming the center and including Jewish and Christian prayer spaces. I have not seen similar attempts from the other side.
I suspect the question is largely irrelevant, as the principal motivation behind the opposition is to seize a political opportunity before an important election. Urging others to move the site requires little thought or effort. It is much cheaper and easier than providing concrete financial support to victims of 9/11. Those who truly want to help these victims should contact their representative about the Zadroga Bill, which would help those suffering from medical complications from 9/11 but was recently voted down in Congress.
Derek Smith Keyser